A summary of findings from a four-year study released early this month suggests that training Algebra 1 teachers in software that lets them monitor students’ work on graphing calculators can lead to better student results on a researcher-designed algebra test.
The authors said the study, part of Ohio State University’s Classroom Connectivity in Mathematics and Science research project, points to the importance of professional development in implementing classroom technology to improve learning. The research, conducted from 2005 to 2009, was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, with Dallas-based Texas Instruments supplying the TI-Navigator monitoring program used in roughly half the classrooms.
The study included 127 teachers from 28 states and two Canadian provinces in its first year. About half the 1,760 students enrolled were placed in a treatment group where their teachers received a week of training in the TI-Navigator system before the year began, as well as continuing professional development. The teachers in the control group received neither the program nor the training.
Of the more than 1,200 students studied, those in the treatment group tested about 10 percent better, on average, on an exam created to reflect Algebra 1 standards in the 13 states involved in the study.
In subsequent years, teachers who taught in the control group the year before were placed into the treatment group, and compared not only against the control group of that year, but also against their own results from the previous year. In all but one year, the treatment-group students made more learning gains than the control group from that year.
A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 2010 edition of Education Week as Technology and Math